Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘Health and Safety’

Heart-Healthy Habits for Families

In honor of American Heart Month, On The Pulse asked Dr. Jason Deen, a cardiologist at Seattle Children’s, to provide tips for families who want to make heart-healthy choices.

Deen works with families who have children who were born with heart problems, and also cares for families who have children who are obese, most of whom have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He conducts research to learn about differences in the heart health of minority populations.

“While the rates of heart disease are leveling off for the population as a whole, certain ethnic and racial minorities are seeing continued increases in the rates of heart disease,” said Deen.

His various experiences have resulted in a special interest in preventing heart disease by encouraging patients and families to lead healthy lifestyles.

“The process of developing adult-onset heart disease begins early in life, before symptoms are present and before it can be diagnosed,” said Deen. “Consequently, educating parents and caregivers in helping children learn heart-healthy habits is key in prevention.” Read full post »

Let’s Talk About What Most People Avoid: Poop

Poop Emoji Pose

Dr. Ambartsumyan poses with items from her wall of memorabilia.

Everyone poops. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about it.

Dr. Lusine Ambartsumyan, director of Seattle Children’s Gastrointestinal Motility program, is on a mission to open up a dialogue about poop.

According to Ambartsumyan, people tend to shy away from conversations related to bowel movements. She says many people feel uncomfortable or shameful talking about it, but these are vital conversations for parents and children to have together.

Millions of children around the world have problems with constipation and fecal incontinence, or the ability to control bowel movements. However, these issues can be difficult to diagnose if children and parents aren’t willing to speak up.

“There’s a stigma, and sometimes parents don’t know their child is suffering from constipation or incontinence because they feel ashamed to talk about it,” said Ambartsumyan. “We have to desensitize and demystify shame around poop. I talk about poop all day long, every single day, and I love talking about it. I want people to feel comfortable talking about it too because it’s critical for their health.” Read full post »

Blood Donation: Eight Things to Know

January marks National Blood Donor Month, a time to encourage people to become blood donors and celebrate those who already give the gift of life through blood donation.

In the U.S., someone needs donated blood about every two seconds. The need for new donations is constant as blood is only usable for a limited amount of time – donated red blood cells must be used within 42 days of collection, platelets within 5 days, and plasma can be frozen for up to one year. Our nation’s blood supply is often dangerously low during the winter months due to donors’ busy holiday schedules, seasonal illnesses and bad weather. Children and adults being treated for cancer, surgery patients, victims of accidents and other ill people all rely on donated blood. In fact, blood transfusions are the most frequently performed medical procedure people have during hospital stays. Read full post »

Positive Changes for the New Year: Resolutions for Families

The New Year is a time when many people reflect on what’s been going well, and also think about small changes they might like to make to improve their health and wellness. You’ve likely got a thing or two in mind for your own self-care goals. Along with these, think about picking an item that your family can work on together as well. It’s more fun to work as a team, and you can encourage each other along the way to creating healthier habits.

Last year, Dr. Mollie Grow told us about making SMART resolutions (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). This year, she’s offering more ideas for families to consider as they take steps for better health, safety and wellness in 2016.

“The New Year is a great time to reflect on our values and priorities as a family and look for ways to act these out in daily life,” Grow said. Read full post »

Helping Kids Cope With Holiday Blues

Holiday DangersThe holidays can be a particularly blue time of the year for people, including children and teenagers. The darker days of winter can bring about a gloomy mood and the hype of the holidays can set unrealistic expectations for children. There are many reasons children may feel sad or anxious around the holidays, including added stress around having to be with one or the other parent (not both), in cases of divorced families, or coping with the loss of a loved one who recently passed away.

To help kids cope with sadness around the holidays, Dr. Elizabeth McCauley, associate director of Seattle Children’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, offers some advice on how to keep those blues at bay. Read full post »

Study: Teens Use Covert Self-harm Hashtags on Instagram That Escape Content Advisory Filters

Dr. Megan Moreno found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels.

Teens on social media post about their comings and goings—pictures, videos, music and news. But according to a new study from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, some teens are using stealthy hashtags and secret languages on Instagram, a popular picture-sharing app, to create online self-harm communities and trends that encourage dangerous behavior. By doing so, they circumvent Instagram safeguards for self-harm and other dangerous material.

The new research illustrates what content is present on Instagram and details how parents or concerned adults can decipher the meaning of unclear terms they see on their teens’ profiles.

Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine physician who studies social media and adolescent health at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, found that teens posting about self-harm, which includes behavior such as intentional cuts or burns on the wrists, arms, legs or belly, were able to outmaneuver Instagram warning labels. Despite the social media app’s attempts to discourage the posts by providing warnings and blocking certain hashtags, adolescent users continued the conversations by developing new hashtags.

“We found that only one third of self-harm hashtags on Instagram generated warning labels,” Moreno said. “Adolescents’ use of unusual terms, such as ‘blithe’ and odd spellings such as ‘self-harmmm,’ allowed them to subvert detection and warning labels.” Read full post »

Tips for Staying Safe on the Slopes

Temperatures are dropping and snow is beginning to accumulate on mountaintops across the country. It’s that time of year again; time to dust off those skis or snowboards and hit the slopes. But before hopping on the chair lift, parents should talk to their kids about safety.

Winter sports, although fun, come with inherent risks – cold temperatures, potentially rugged terrain and the possibility of serious injury. Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of Emergency Services at Seattle Children’s, offers tips to help kids enjoy the slopes safely.

“Safety starts with anticipating risk,” said Woodward. “When you don’t anticipate risk, you aren’t putting yourself in the best situation, and that’s when injury can occur.”
Read full post »

Safe Holiday Toys: What Parents Should Look For When Choosing Gifts For Kids

Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana says wood toys are a better choice than plastic for babies and toddlers who put things in their mouths.

While families shop for fun toys this holiday season, they should also make sure those toys are safe. On the Pulse sat down with Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician and expert in children’s environmental health, to talk about safety in children’s toys and what to look for in gifts for little ones.

Q: Are there materials that parents should avoid for babies and toddlers?

A: Babies and toddlers put a lot of things in their mouths, so plastics are not a good choice for little ones ages 0-3. Plasticizers expose kids to man-made chemicals that affect hormones like estrogen and testosterone. These chemicals can potentially interfere with normal growth and brain development. Children have higher intakes of these chemicals compared to adults because of behaviors like putting things in their mouths and breathing faster than adults. Read full post »

Antibiotic Resistance: Too Much of a Good Thing

ThinkstockPhotos-103583538Antibiotics improve our lives in innumerable ways, but there is growing concern that their overuse is increasingly exposing the public to drug-resistant bacteria. Each year in the United States, at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more people die from other conditions that were complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection.

“In many ways, antibiotics are victims of their own success,” said Dr. Scott Weissman, an infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “When antibiotics first came into being in the 1940’s, they were hailed as miraculous, and they were, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is observing its annual Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. During this time, the CDC, along with other healthcare organizations and partners, is highlighting the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. Weissman, a nationally-known expert who is in Washington D.C. participating in some of the events for Get Smart About Antibiotics Week, took time to answer some questions about what antibiotic resistance is, and what we can do about it.

What are the current recommendations for giving antibiotics to children?

First off, there is no single solution or strategy that is right for every situation. Antibiotics should be given only when they are necessary, but I think we can all agree that the standard practice of many providers has been far less disciplined. This has led many to view receiving a prescription for antibiotics as the expectation of a doctor’s visit, rather than the exception.

Read full post »

Screen Time, Holiday Time, Family Time: Tips For Parents On Tech Toys This Holiday Season

Dr. Dimitri Christakis says not all screen time is bad for children, but it’s important to be familiar with the content and manage the time kids spend on screen toys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it is revising recommended screen time guidelines for kids. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, offers parents advice on how to manage screen time and what to consider when shopping for children this holiday season.

Q: What should parents make of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) decision to revise screen time guidelines?
A: This is an acknowledgement that for kids growing up today, screen time is a constant part of their lives: At home, at school, when visiting friends, on the airplane, in cars. Digital products have permeated every part of kids’ days, so the revised guidelines ought to help families manage digital engagement.

The good news is that not all screen time is bad. But it’s important for parents to understand that kids are going through critical cognitive, social and emotional developmental phases, and screen time influences that development. Read full post »